The Honors Community welcomes our newest Honors Faculty members! The Alcuin Fellowship recognizes professors with proven excellence in teaching, willingness to pursue interdisciplinary education and potential to create exceptional educational experiences. Each of these remarkable faculty members join the Unexpected Connections course rotation this academic year, and we invite you to get to know a little about each of them. Pictured above: (top row) Marlene Esplin, Derek Hansen, Michael Call, Jason Kenealey, Julie Allen (middle row) Todd Fisher, Brock Kirwan, Mary Davis (bottom row) Jennifer Haraguchi, Emron Esplin, Clint Whipple, Jamin Rowan, Mat Duerden
Julie Allen | Professor of Comparative Arts & Letters
Why Honors? As a teacher, I believe strongly in the power of interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to provide students with exceptional educational experiences, both by building bridges between things they already know and new content and by demonstrating the connections between topics, themes, and texts that they had not previously conceived of as being in dialogue with each other. In Honors, I hope to help students make connections between the hard sciences and humanities aspects of their university educations, to approach the pursuit of knowledge more holistically while also honing their ability to find reliable, meaningful answers to the questions they encounter along the way.
Teaching HONRS 221-Biology/Arts, “Fantastic and Mythological Creatures in Life and Literature” with Jason Kenealey
Eduation: PhD, Germanic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
Research Interests: Scandinavian Studies, Global Mormon Studies, and Cinema Studies
Michael J. Call | Associate Professor of Comparative Arts & Letters
Why Honors? The Honors program is a wonderful opportunity to get out of our normal academic comfort zones and dialogue with others while thinking together about fascinating and thorny questions, the kinds of questions that do not get addressed or even asked in more traditional classes. My time in the Honors program has given me the marvelous chance to interact with bright and committed students and professors who have inspired and challenged me while sharing some of the best learning experiences that I have had at BYU.
Teaching HONRS 290R-Physical Science/Arts, “What are the Odds?: Probability in Math and the Humanities” with Todd Fisher
Education: Ph. D. Yale University, 2006
Research Interests: 17th-century French art and literature, history of the book, theories of authorship, cultural history of risk, chance, and determinism
Mary Davis | Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Biology
Why Honors? I love the intersection of disciplines as it allows us to see information in a new way. The Honor’s program allows me to help students discover this amazing space for learning.
Teaching HONRS 220-Biology/Letters, “Pandemics, Plagues, and Contagion: Literary and Scientific Perspectives” with Marlene Esplin
Education: PhD, Human Genetics, Vanderbilt University
Research Interests: Statistical genetic analysis of complex diseases, automated extraction of phenotypes from electronic medical records
Mat Duerden | Associate Professor of Experience Design and Management
Why Honors? I love BYU’s Honors Program because it’s a space for individuals from diverse disciplines to come together and wrestle with interesting questions. It’s place to practice mentored curiosity and creativity and represents some of the best experiences BYU has to offer!
Teaching HONRS 226- Social Sciences/Letters, “The Art of Transformative Storytelling” with Jamin Rowan
Education: PhD, Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University
Research Interests: Work and leisure within experience design
Emron Esplin | Associate Professor of English
Why Honors? The interdisciplinarity, the chance to team-teach with a good friend, and (so I’m told since I’m new to the program) the amazing students. I’m excited to teach students about literature and the brain and to learn a whole lot more about the brain myself.
Teaching HONRS 220- Biology/Letters, “This is Your Brain on Lit: Neuroscience in Literature and Film” with Brock Kirwan
Education: PhD, English with Graduate Minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Michigan State University
Research Interests: US literature and inter-American literary studies, translation studies, anthology studies
Marlene Esplin | Associate Professor of Comparative Arts & Literature
Why Honors? I enjoy teaching in a university setting and have reveled in opportunities to examine topics relevant to my fields of study and to explore materials outside of my realms of expertise. As an Alcuin, I hope to help students make lasting connections between our various objects of study and their diverse career or life pursuits and to show them my desires for a compassionate, socially-minded, and Christ-centered life.
Teaching HONRS 220- Biology/Letters, “Pandemics, Plagues, and Contagion: Literary and Scientific Perspectives”with Mary Davis
Education: PhD, Hispanic Cultural Studies, Michigan State University
Research Interests: Translation studies and 20th C Literature of the Americas
Todd Fisher | Professor of Mathematics
Why Honors? For a number of years, I was involved in the Honors program through Late Summer Honors. This was an incredible experience for me, and helped me structure an interdisciplinary course which Mike Call and I have now expanded to a full semester. The Honors Program provides excellent preparation to facilitate interdisciplinary research at BYU.
Teaching HONRS 290R-Physical Science/Arts, “What are the Odds?: Probability in Math and the Humanities” with Mike Call
Education: PhD, Mathematics, Northwestern University
Research Interests: Dynamical systems
Derek Hansen | Professor of Technology
Why Honors? My love of the Honors Program stems from my own time as an undergraduate student, and I have been engaged in interdisciplinary research and teaching since my time as a doctoral student. Since arriving at BYU, I’ve taught (and co-taught) a variety of courses that blend insights and students from technical, social science, and humanities backgrounds. Honors is a natural fit that allows me to continue that approach.
Teaching HONRS 227-Social Sciences/Arts, “Playing with Reality: Investigating Deception through Games, Film, and TV” with Jeff Parkin
Education: PhD, Information, University of Michigan
Research Interests: Human computer interaction, social network analysis, social media analytics
Jennifer Haraguchi | Associate Professor of Italian
Why Honors? Because Honors classes push us all--students and professors alike--to test new ideas, re-evaluate what we already know, and integrate that knowledge into our own realm of experience.
Teaching HONRS 226-Social Sciences/Letters, “Is Virtue the Same for Men and Women?” with Grant Madsen
Education: PhD, Italian Language and Literature, University of Chicago
Research Interests: Women’s Studies, Italian Literature, and the Medieval Period
Jason Kenealey | Associate Professor of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science
Why Honors? I am interested in multidisciplinary learning. My own experience at BYU is a demonstration of my multidisciplinary approach to education. I was trained as a biochemist and was hired in a nutritional science department. Honors providethis course will be an interesting way to present academically rigorous topics and provide students and opportunity to develop multiple skill sets.
Teaching HONRS 221- Biology/Arts, ”Fantastic and Mythological Creatures in Life and Literature” with Julie Allen
Education: PhD, Biomolecular Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Research Interests: Cancer Research and chemical structures
Brock Kirwan | Professor of Psychology
Why Honors? Because my nerdy obsessions don’t respect disciplinary bounds. I love talking about the neuroscience and psychology of memory, but I also love learning and talking about music, literature, animal behavior, home canning, etc. The Honors program is a great way to explore new interdisciplinary connections.
Teaching HONRS 220- Biology/Letters, “This is Your Brain on Lit: Neuroscience in Literature and Film” with Emron Esplin
Education: PhD, Psychology and Brain Sciences, John Hopkins University
Research Interests: Memory and brain mechanisms
Jamin Rowan | Associate Professor of English
Why Honors? Honors introduces students to the kind of curiosity, creativity, and interdisciplinary thinking required to address the type of “wicked problems” with which we will be grappling for the foreseeable future.
Teaching HONRS 226-Social Sciences/Letters, “The Art of Transformative Storytelling” with Mat Duerden
Education: PhD, English, Boston College
Interests: Literature, urban studies, and environmental humanities
Clint Whipple | Associate Professor of Biology
Why Honors? My favorite classes as an undergraduate at BYU were all honors classes. The combination of rigor and pleasure... I experienced by taking ideas seriously in these courses enlarged my perceptive capacity. We need to expand our capacity to see, so that we can properly serve each other and care for our common home. I look forward to expanding my spheres of perception and care with the community of honors students and faculty.
Teaching HONRS 221- Biology/Arts, “Discovering Yourself in Your Place” with George Handley
Education: PhD, Biology, UC San Diego
Research Interests: Plant diversity and plant development
We are excited to see what Unexpected Connections will follow as their research and life interests combine in unique courses and perspectives this year. Welcome to the Honors Program!